‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – pitch perfect or total-vocal flop?

 Rami Malek gives a legendary performance in a film that doesn’t quite deserve it

 

If you’re a fan of Queen, you’ll probably have a good time with this movie. But you’re not going to find out anything new or interesting. Likewise, if you have no idea what a “Queen” is, (I know, the nerve!), you’re probably going to learn many new things. But as a film… there’s really nothing there.

There are many great aspects of this film, and some scenes that are near iconic. However, the reason as to why 99% of these scenes work so well is because of Queen itself. As in the band, the real-life band. Every emotional moment that lands does so because of Queen. The film certainly doesn’t do anything to earn them. Also, without how great these songs were and still are, I sincerely doubt this film would be regarded as anything special.

One of the main things the film did get right was the casting. It cannot be understated just how good Rami Malek is as Freddie Mercury. It goes beyond putting on some false teeth and copying a few mannerisms, he embodies nearly everything about the man and incorporates Freddie’s persona so naturally into his performance. It is amazing to watch it unfold on screen. Another performance heading for an Oscar methinks. In fact, the whole cast were good, and very rarely did I recognise the actor over the person they were playing. They weren’t actors playing a role, they just became these people. And it is great.

But yeah, that’s about it. It really is a nothing film. And that’s far worse than it being good or bad. It means the most I can bring myself to give as an immediate reaction to the film is a mere, “meh”.

The concert scenes are great, especially the finale. Though the use of a CGI crowd for Wembley is a bit unfortunate. You understand why they did it, but it makes a powerful closing scene feel somewhat fake. Even the scenes that show the creation of their most iconic songs, whilst great individually, get increasingly repetitious. It goes as follows: scene of band coming up with idea for song, intercut with band performing song live, followed by scene of people’s reactions to song. Rinse and repeat. They do this for Bohemian Rhapsody (the song), We Will Rock You, and Another One Bites the Dust. And it just gets so tiring.

And I want to make a point of the difference between a documentary and a biopic. A documentary will just tell you the facts, but a biopic gives you more. Creators may regularly take creative liberties with a biopic, but it is all in service of telling a story. It should invest you beyond what you already know, beyond the details of the material. I honestly don’t think ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ does that.

Also, because I can’t find another place to rant about this, why Bryan Singer? Never mind the numerous problems he allegedly has as a person, (enough to be fired from Bohemian Rhapsody 2/3 of the way into principal photography), but as a creative voice. He is boring. I’ve have never seen a director whose passion projects are so dispassionate.

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is unfortunately no different with its direction. I think more so here, than with any other film I’ve seen, it was saved by its subject matter. Because no one would care about this film if it wasn’t about Queen. With this direction and script? Not a hope in hell. But at the end of the day, it is a film about Queen. I know it goes without saying, but everything the film does right, was because Queen did it right first. If anything, it’s a lesson in how great Queen and their songs were, because that transcends whatever the quality of the film is. The film doesn’t matter in the slightest, the band does.

But at the end of the day, when the credits rolled to Don’t Stop Me Now, there was a round of applause in the audience. When We Will Rock You started in the middle of the film, you could hear people clapping their hands and stomping their feet. The energy in the crowd was great. The energy of Queen was great. The energy of Rami Malek’s performance was great!

So maybe with all that going for it, the film can get away with being a bit naff. (Well… really naff… well… okay I’ll stop talking now.)

Bohemian Rhapsody is playing at the Commodore Cinema until 15th November, every day at 19:30.